The world just LOVES giving new moms advice. But a lot of it is garbage. Let’s review some common myths about your new baby and being a new parent.
Your Baby Eats What You Eat
Strictly speaking, this is not true. When you eat, food is processed by your stomach and passed to your intestines where the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.
When your baby nurses, your breast tissue pulls nutrients from your blood supply and turns them into breast milk.
If you eat a lot of protein or vitamin K, your breastmilk is more likely to have more protein and vitamin K. But if you eat kale, your baby isn’t drinking a kale smoothie.
Mothers around the world get advice on what to eat and what not to eat when breastfeeding. But these ideas are cultural and not based in science. As long as mom is getting enough fat, protein, and vitamins and minerals, her breastmilk will be healthy for her baby. So eat healthy to keep yourself healthy.
See more about breastfeeding.
Don’t Share Utensils With Your Baby
Parents used to be told not to clean their baby’s spoon or pacifier with their mouths. Doctors said it was dirty and could spread germs that cause cavities.
New studies actually show the opposite - babies whose parents boiled their pacifiers to clean them were significantly more likely to develop asthma and eczema. Our understanding about the microbiome and its role in protecting us against allergic disease is pretty new.
Instead of harming your baby with your bacteria, swapping a bit of spit can help their stomach get the healthy bacteria they need.
Don’t Let Anyone Touch Your Baby
Since babies have weak immune systems, it’s best to keep anyone with an obvious cold, open wounds, etc. away from you and your baby.
But a lot of baby books took this too far and said not to let anyone touch a baby for the first couple months.
Turns out, getting contact with other humans is good for babies. Having family, siblings and dogs that get a baby dirty protects babies from allergic disease.
Your garbage-eating, butt-sniffing dog carries many different kinds of bacteria. And when he tracks that into the house or licks your baby, the diversity of your baby’s gut microbiome increases. Same goes for toddlers, who are basically as gross as dogs.
One caveat: If your toddler is sick, those viruses & germs are not good to pass onto you baby and have no protective benefits. Those germs could make your baby quite ill, so there’s no need to let a snotty big brother kiss your baby.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps, Eat When Baby Eats
Like many other moms, I was told to sync my schedule up with my baby’s.
Turns out, eating when your baby eats is bad advice. Always finish eating and wash your hands before you touch your baby. Food on your hands (or crumbs falling out of your mouth) will cover your baby’s skin in food dust.
If a baby gets food on their skin regularly before they are eating that food, it can confuse the immune system into creating a food allergy. Skin exposure to food before a baby is eating is thought to be the number one cause of food allergies.
Keep a glass of water, or maybe a smoothie nearby while nursing to get in water and calories. This will keep your baby’s skin free of dust, and keep you from being exhausted.